After being married for 40 years, Valentine's Day is just another day, right?
When I opened my eyes Feb. 14, there on my nightstand was a Valentine's Day card for me.
While packing Harry's lunch, I tucked a bag of Lindt's chocolate truffles and a card in his lunch box. I also cut his whole wheat Deli Flat turkey sandwich in the shape of a heart.
In lieu of gifts to each other, we decided we'd rather spend the money on a nice dinner out.
So, as we were sipping our complimentary glasses of wine at Mangia Baby, I batted my eyelashes and in my sexiest, sultriest voice, asked him if it was all right if I left him. To work. I wanted to interview some folks for my column.
He smiled and said, "No problem."
First I visited with Frank and Kitty Hauptman of Kunkletown. They've been married for 24 years and this was their very first Valentine's Day dinner out.
"Valentine's Day is just another day to me," said Frank.
Kitty said she likes Valentine's Day because "I got to eat out tonight," she smiled.
Frank added that he'd rather be home.
"I enjoy my own home. There we can have a few drinks and I like to cook," he said.
I asked Frank how he proposed to Kitty.
"My wife's very nosy. I had asked to borrow her car so I could go pick up her ring. But when I got home, she wanted to know why I needed her car."
"My very brand new car," Kitty injected.
"She kept after me and after me so I finally threw the box on the bed and said, 'There's why I borrowed your car. I bought you a ring.'" He said it wasn't quite the way he had planned on proposing, but, it worked. Two children and 24 years later, they're still glad to be sweethearts.
I scooted back to my patient husband and we enjoyed our salads and appetizers with some light conversation. I noticed the table next to us had just finished dessert and I asked John and Donna Waltz of Kunkletown, members of my church, if I could talk to them.
Donna thinks Valentine's Day is a fun holiday "and there's chocolate involved." John agreed.
When asked how John proposed to her, she said that they had gone out to dinner at the Chinese buffet with her daughter, Kayla and his son, Sean. When they got back home, they were sitting around the kitchen table when John said, "Honey, I have a question for you. Will you marry me?" She was hoping for such a proposal and said, "Yes!"
Then John turned to the children and said, "Is it OK if your mom and I get married?"
His son Sean replied, "What took you so long?" and her daughter, Kayla said, "Absolutely!"
The following Friday they went ring shopping and in April 2001, they got married.
Donna added that "John is a romantic, so everyday is Valentine's Day."
Our own dinner had arrived and I thanked the Waltzs and joined Harry.
As I listened to Harry tell me about almost taking a nose dive at work, I noticed a table with two couples and how much they were enjoying their time together.
When the waitress cleared their table, I walked over and introduced myself and asked if I could interview them. They graciously invited me to join them.
I asked if they liked Valentine's Day and received a resounding "Yes!" from all four.
Valentine's Day to Toni Sagazio means "Hearts and flowers," to Joe Balzano, it's "Expensive," to Mike Lalli, "Card and flowers," and his wife, Ann, said it means "A day to rekindle love."
Mike met Ann while in college, through mutual friends. "There was immediate chemistry," he said.
"It was love at first sight," said Ann.
He proposed to her at dinner at one of their favorite restaurants and asked, "Will you marry me?" and gave her a ring he had specially made for her. They'll celebrate their 40th anniversary in May.
Out of the two, Ann says she's the most romantic, often making him candlelight dinners.
"It's important to keep romance alive in a marriage," says Ann.
Toni and Joe met seven years ago at the eye clinic where Toni worked.
"I fitted him for glasses. We looked into each other's eyes and we couldn't stop looking at each other and giggling like kids, and that's how it started," she said as Joe nodded his head in agreement, smiling at the memory.
He asked her out for coffee but she said "no" because he was a patient and it wasn't allowed.
She learned that Joe was a good friend of her boss and she asked what he knew about him and her boss said, "He's a good guy."
The next time Joe, a widower and father of two, came into the eye clinic, Toni said he looked kind of low. She went to him and gave him her phone number and told him if he ever needed a friend or someone to talk to, he should call her. He did and she invited him to Easter dinner with her and her two children.
"We've been together ever since," said Joe.
One of the ways he likes to show her how much he loves her is by cooking for her.
"I'm retired and she works. I love to cook for her."
He added that he thinks the most important thing in any relationship is to be friends with each other.
All four agreed that humor and laughter is also important, something all four shared with me throughout the entire interview.
I thanked the two couples from Gilbert, who are the best of friends, and headed back to my very patient and understanding husband, who was working on his third cup of coffee, who all three waitresses had been waiting on hand and foot, feeling sorry for him because his wife left him alone much of Valentine's Day night. I thanked them for taking such good care of him.
When asked what we planned to do the rest of the night, I said we were going home, chase each other around the kitchen table, put on our jammies and watch TV.
Not romantic enough?
Ah ... but you can make anything romantic enough with a little creativity, especially when you're with the one you love.
Hope your Valentine's Day was filled with romance, laughter and love.